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How Western food is perceived in China

The Chinese culinary scene is diverse and reflects the local perspective on what constitutes good taste and an enjoyable meal. But Western cuisine has found its way into China, even if it often undergoes some modifications. 
To succeed in the Chinese market, companies must adapt and modify their “Western” offerings, but this does not mean that the Chinese dislike real Western tastes. So let’s see together how real Western food is perceived in China.

Most Popular Western Food in China

If we have to think of the most popular Western foods in the world we think of: pizza, coffee, wine, pasta and hamburgers. That being said, let’s take these foods and see how popular they are in China:

How western food is perceived in China: Pizza

Pizza has become an increasingly popular fast food option with a Western flair in China. Fueled by the growing preference for Western-style cuisine among young Chinese consumers, foreign pizza chains are strategically planning to increase their presence in the country.
Major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen boast the highest concentration of pizza outlets nationwide. 

This expansion involves the introduction of localized menus and an emphasis on pizza deliveries. Domino’s Pizza Inc, a global pizza company, has expressed its commitment to an extensive expansion strategy, aiming to open 180 new stores in China this year.

Dominos Pizza in China 2023

How western food is perceived in China: Coffee

Traditionally, tea has been China’s signature drink, considered a quintessential part of their cultural heritage. However, in recent times, coffee has gained popularity as a favorite beverage, especially among the younger Chinese generation. 
A major catalyst for the surge in coffee culture is the growing impact of Western influences on the country’s urban youth. The proliferation of Western brands, coffee shops and cafes in Chinese cities has led young people to adopt coffee as a chic and sophisticated beverage, a symbol of their modern and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

In addition, the growing number of young Chinese studying abroad has played a key role in determining coffee preferences. Indeed, many students return from Western countries bringing with them a fondness for coffee. Thus actively fostering the growth of the coffee industry.

Starbucks in China 2023

How western food is perceived in China: Wine

In recent decades, there has been a significant surge in alcohol consumption in China, fueled largely by a substantial increase in the purchase of red wine, which accounts for 90% of wine imports. Total wine consumption accounts for 5% of the entire Chinese alcoholic beverage market. 
Red wine undeniably stands out as the preferred choice of the Chinese. However, wine, especially red wine, is commonly associated with formal occasions, while the younger generation tends to choose spirits during informal social gatherings. In fact, a notable trend among Chinese youth is the adoption of the practice of weekly “brunches” with friends, in which alcohol often plays an important role. 
The preference for red wine is rooted in its association with stability and settling in, rather than being associated with a carefree and spontaneous lifestyle. 

How western food is perceived in China: Pasta

Italian pasta is well known in China, but despite this, only two pasta formats can be found in the country: penne and spaghetti. In fact, many Chinese visitors who come to Italy are surprised by the amount of variety of pasta shapes that exist.

As for spaghetti, the Chinese are very familiar with and appreciative of versions with meat sauce and simply with tomato sauce. While penne in China is most often cooked with cream, probably due to the American influence. 

Barilla in China 2023

How western food is perceived in China: Hamburger

If we talk about burgers in China we are talking about fast food, an industry that has seen substantial growth in China in recent years. And now the Chinese fast food market is among the largest in the world.

Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s are the most popular fast food chains where to find burgers in China. KFC in particular, with over 9,000 restaurants across China, is the most dominant fast-food chain in the country.

In 2021, hamburgers became a significant contender in the Chinese fast-food market, especially in the realm of online ordering. They secured the third position in popularity among the top 10 categories for online food and beverage orders in 2021.

In conclusion, the culinary landscape in China is a fascinating blend of traditional flavors and the infusion of Western influences. The diversification of taste preferences among the Chinese population has led to the integration of popular Western foods into their daily lives. While maintaining their own unique perspective on what constitutes a delightful meal, the Chinese have embraced iconic Western dishes.

Long Advisory digital marketing agency in China

Long Advisory supports American and European companies in China through digital marketing. In fact, our experience has led us to believe that today, the best and most convenient approach to making your brand well-known in China is through a digital approach. Furthermore, thanks to our know-how, we know how to make your brand known to potential Chinese consumers. With the effective coordination of Long Advisory, your company will see a new rise in the largest market in the world: China.

Long Advisory is a digital marketing agency specializing in developing digital marketing solutions tailored for the Chinese market. 

Interested in expanding your brand in China? Contact us for more info and details at info@longadvisory.eu

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